As a longtime resident of Oak Park, I greatly enjoy the public art and great architecture that this community offers. However, I have to question the Public Art Advisory Commission’s recent recommendation that the village levy a one-percent fee against all new developments in Oak Park costing at least $1 million.

Oak Park has a number of pressing issues that could greatly benefit from public support, not the least of which is affordable housing. In a couple of years, the SRO units at the YMCA will be closing and the low-income residents are likely to be displaced. Many could wind up on the streets of Oak Park or crowding into the already crowded shelters operated by West Suburban PADS. The loss of other affordable housing units over recent years due to condominium conversions has also placed great pressure on the limited resources available for affordable housing.

When other communities have faced this issue, some have adopted “inclusionary zoning” ordinances which require developers to include affordable housing units in new developments above a certain size or alternatively to pay a fee into a locally-administered housing trust fund to support the development of affordable housing.

As the village trustees consider this proposal, I would encourage them to evaluate where potential development fees should best be spent. There is only so much that you can charge a developer before a project becomes infeasible and developers begin to look elsewhere. I would cast my vote on attempting to address the housing needs of our less fortunate neighbors.

By way of disclosure, I must state that these views are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the board of the Oak Park Residence Corporation for which I am privileged to serve as executive director.

Edward Solan
Oak Park

Join the discussion on social media!